June 29, 1998 12:00 AM

For the first time ever, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus erected a tent in New York City, where on Wednesday night “Barnum’s Kaleidoscape” opened a holiday engagement that will run in the Big Apple until the end of the year. The intimate European-flavored show, replete with Golden Clown Award winner David Larible, acrobats, jugglers, equine and trapeze artists and a goose girl, attracted a first-audience that included several Broadway producers as well as Steve Buscemi, Spalding Gray, William F. Buckley and last year’s PEOPLE Sexiest men Alive, Richard Gere, who came with Carey Lowell. Gere and Lowell brought along her 9-year-old daughter (by former husband Griffin Dunne), Hannah, and a young male friend of Hannah’s, said Lowell. Her and Gere’s 10-month-old son, Homer, apparently stayed home. “He obviously enjoyed the show,” the happy woman seated ringside next to Gere told PEOPLE.com afterwards. “You could sense the warmth he felt toward the circus.” The show’s producer, Kenneth Feld, said during the pre-show champagne reception, “This party is going to go on every night.” With the same crowd? “All right,” he conceded. “With different people every night.”

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